The last stand
Today we saw the de facto best team in North America, OpTic Gaming, versus the de facto best team in EMEA, FunPlus Phoenix, face off in the best of five Lower Bracket Final.
FPX have fought their way through the lower bracket since round one, taking down Guild Esports, DRX, and fnatic on their way to today’s final.
OpTic, on the other hand, dropped down into the lower bracket yesterday, after losing to the team to Paper Rex; a win here would set up a grudge match against PRX.
Would this final be the time that OpTic broke their curse of never beating an EMEA team on LAN? Let’s break it down map by map to find out.
Map 1 – Split – OpTic’s Map Pick
Going into Map 1, OpTic looked comfortable during their first two rounds as El Diablo, yay, was clicking on heads with ease with Chamber’s Headhunter.
However, just as it had happened in their first map against PRX, FPX quickly ran away with a 9-3 lead in the first half.
Whilst yesterday it was SUYGETSU with the heroics against their comeback loss on the same map against fnatic, this time it was Shao who was cutting down their opponents, as he had a 17/7/1 score at the half mark on his Omen.
Again in the second half, OpTic won both the pistol and it’s subsequent conversion round, although they fell down as SUYGETSU turned on the style and FPX won the map 13-6, a surprising washout considering how close Split games typically are.
Map 2 – Icebox – FPX’s Map Pick
Moving into Icebox, FPX were keen to keep their momentum up, however they quickly fell to a 4-0 deficit as the North American team managed to convert their bonus round and the round afterward.
Despite the performances of yay and Marved at the event, it was instead IGL FNS – on Viper – who was the hero of their attacker side. As crashies and victor struggled, though, it wasn’t enough to prevent FPX from coming back to a 6-6 score at half time.
The second half was far more one-sided, as FPX’s superior teamplay prevailed, with ardiis and Zyppan able to carry their first half form into the second half in a way none of the OpTic players managed to.
OpTic won a measly two rounds in this half, one of those being the bonus round, as they fell 13-8 and FPX gained a 2-0 lead on the series.
Map 3 – Bind – OpTic’s Map Pick
OpTic went into their second map pick of Bind knowing it was do-or-die time, and were feeling confident thanks to their win against PRX (who were previously 8-0 on the map) in yesterday’s Upper Final.
Feeling the weight of their previous performances, it was crashies and victor who this time performed for OpTic as they started out on the Attacker side, putting in 15/5/10 and 13/7/3 halves respectively as, just like against PRX, OpTic stormed to a 9-3 lead at half time.
The second half looked to be closer, as FPX picked up three rounds in the first six. An OpTic pistol and conversion round win meant that this was too little, too late, though, and OpTic took the Map 13-6.
Map 4 – Fracture – FPX Map Pick
OpTic would have been keen to bounce back on FPX’s second map pick of Fracture, considering their demolishing by PRX in the Upper Final, as well as keeping their hopes alive for the reverse sweep.
It wasn’t to be the case, however, as FPX quickly surged to a 6-round lead on their Attacker side. This time, it was IGL ANGE1 who was the unlikely hero, using Omen as Shao had done in map 1 to tear through OpTic’s defense.
Despite yay’s best efforts, as FPX gained – once again – a 9-3 lead at halftime, even beating FPX on their conversion round wasn’t enough to bring OpTic truly back into the conversation.
Shao stepped up once more on FPX’s Defender side, going 11/5/1 over the seven rounds as Fade, steering FPX to a 13-7 win and a 3-1 win in the series.
As OpTic’s EMEA curse continues, they drop out of the tournament in third place. FPX will now advance to Sunday’s Grand Final, where they will face off against Hold W merchants Paper Rex in an EMEA vs APAC final.